Local residents split over Duck Dynasty controversy

Author: Ashley Townsend, General assignment reporter
Published On: Dec 20 2013 03:50:34 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 20 2013 09:51:55 PM EST
Phil Robertson suspended
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

There's now backlash to the backlash as people protest the suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson from the A&E program over comments he made in an interview with GQ Magazine this week.

Hundreds of thousands of people are showing their support despite Robertson's controversial comments.

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson said in the interview, according to GQ. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

Robertson also spoke about race relations growing up in a pre-civil rights era Louisiana. He said he believed African-Americans were much happier back then.

He said, "I never with my eyes saw the mistreatment of any black person. I hoed cotton with them. Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

Even with their wildly popular A&E show, the Robertson clan has made trips right here to Jacksonville, speaking at area churches.

Locals are split on the issue.

"I guess he wasn't trying to be a racist saying that," said Phil Moore. "I guess he's cool with black people. But it's backwards."

"I understand when you're a celebrity you've got to be careful with what you say, but at the same point you need to be able to have some freedom of speech," said Stephen Miron. "It didn't seem to be that he was out to get anybody."

Shevara Orrin, a straight ally of the LGBT community, said Robertson's comments are racist, even dangerous for a community struggling to find equality.

"They allude to a time and perhaps he did not see," Orrin said. "I'm not saying his comments aren't true, but there were lynchings, there were beatings. There were people being killed as they simply walked for the right to vote."

On the other end of the spectrum, Raymond Johnson, of Biblical Concepts Ministries, said in a statement:

"I agree 100% with all of the above statements from Mr. Robertson and I am sick and tired of the militant homosexual community forcing Christians into the closets that they have came out of. I firmly believe we need more godly men like Mr. Robertson to stand up and publicly speak common sense truth in love."